The House voted 295-123 against a measure that would have given President Obama the authority to continue U.S. military operations against Libya. It was a largely symbolic rebuke because the Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to follow suit.
House Republicans pushed for the vote, which marks the first time either chamber has voted against a military operation since 1999, when the House gave President Bill Clinton a similar thumbs down on the Bosnian war.
The measure has no immediate effect, but stripping the president of his war powers would have limited the U.S. role to such operations as search and rescue, aerial refueling and reconnaissance. Drone strikes and other offensive air operations would have been prohibited.
The vote comes as French President Nicholas Sarkozy questioned the U.S. commitment to the Libyan effort as the NATO coalition aimed at removing strongman Moammar Gadhafi appeared to be showing signs of strain. Months of airstrikes have so far failed to bring down the regime.
"I wouldn't say that the bulk of the work in Libya is being done by our American friends," Sarkozy told reporters at the summit. "The French and English and their allies are doing the work."
After acting as the vanguard of the campaign against Gadhafi in March, Obama insisted the U.S. quickly take a back seat and allow its European allies to assume the lead.
Seven NATO members are now participating in airstrikes: Britain, France, Belgium, Canada, Norway, Denmark and Italy. But, most of the alliance's 28 members, including Germany, have refused to join in.